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We have objected for the seventh time to Bristol Zoo’s application to use Bristol’s Downs for car-parking. The society has objected to this use since 1997 and each time the council has granted temporary permission. The current permission expires this month (December 2016). Before 1997 the zoo used the Downs for parking without seeking proper permission.
The zoo has applied for a three-year permission, this time to use the Downs for parking for 40 days in 2017, 35 in 2018 and 30 in 2019. While this is a reduction in the number of days from the previous consent, the zoo proposes no action to reduce the number of its visitors coming by car, and it is not prepared to provide a park-and-ride solution. This means that others wishing to use the Downs will continue to be barred from one of the best parts on the best days of the year and will find it more difficult to find parking on the roads on the Downs on other days. They are being denied the opportunity to walk where they have long had rights to roam.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We deplore Bristol Zoo’s selfish attitude; it seems only to think of its of its own revenue and convenience and is prepared to sacrifice the Downs for car-parking instead of finding alternative solutions for travel. Bristol Council, by granting temporary permissions since the 1990s, has given the zoo ample opportunity to devise a travel scheme to make overflow parking unnecessary. The zoo has failed to do this, arrogantly assuming that it can continue to abuse the Downs instead.
‘It is time the council put an end to this. We have urged it to reject the current application, thereby forcing the zoo to seek alternatives. The Downs are common land, which have since 1861* been preserved for the enjoyment of the people of Bristol. This is a remarkable green space which deserves the highest protection. Bristol Zoo must recognise its value to the public and look elsewhere for car-parking.’
*Clifton and Durdham Downs (Bristol) Act 1861.